Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Poo Hand Luke

Never Thought I'd Take The Plunge With This Tale...

The year was 1977. Star Wars had burst onto the local cinema scene, and completely captivated a certain 9 year old boy. He saw it twice that first summer day, begging his parents to stay for a second showing. Over the course of the summer, he'd seen it 5 or 6 more times. He'd started collecting the action figures, gotten all the Burger King promo posters (which 29 years later he wishes he still had...) and even got a new shirt with a Luke Skywalker iron-on decal for his 10th birthday. That shirt was only removed under protest for the occasional bath and laundering until it resembled a tattered rag.

He never told anyone, but he secretly thought he looked a lot like Mark Hamill. He was a lot skinnier and blonder back then. He started mussing up his hair not 5 minutes after Mom combed it to give it that rumpled farmboy look. He pissed & moaned for days until Mom finally gave in and bought him the novelization of the film, then read it and reread it a dozen times.

All the neighbor kids loved playing Star Wars games. Our pack of Huffy, Schwinn and Raleigh bicycles became fleets of TIE fighters and X-wings. The big hill down Campbell street became the Death Star trench, where trios of boys would race down at top speed, while other boys serving as turbolaser gun emplacements would hurl tennis balls and dirt clods as we raced past, intent on tossing a football "proton torpedo" into the Mertz basketball goal at the bottom of the hill, just before we slammed on the brakes before ending up in Pleasant Run creek.

Our cowboy capguns became blasters, and many a football helmet and pads got spraypainted and overlaid with cardboard to become stormtrooper armor. We were insanely jealous of the kid with the domed trashcan painted like R2D2 by his father. We raided our piggy banks for enough pennies to buy just one more pack of Star Wars trading cards, in hopes of getting the elusive #37 card.

Then there were the lightsabers...

The Stewart brothers got them first, wooden laths painted red & blue. Then the Mertz kid got a piece of PVC pipe painted blue. The Weinberg kid had the best so far... a metal flashlight tube crammed full of modeling clay, supporting an old curtain rod covered in aluminum foil. He'd unhook that flashlight from his belt, jam the curtain rod into the clay making a "whisssh" sound, and commence to flailing about. Eventually we all had a chunk of wood painted up red or blue, usually with tempera paint filched from the summer YMCA art class.

Bruises and scrapes along hands and arms became more and more common. Heads were verboten as targets, nor could you stab with your "lightsaber", but everything else you could swipe at was fair game. Dads who'd played Knights of the Round Table when they were kids implored us to grab a garbage can lid as a shield, like they used to. We scoffed. Jedi knights used no shields!

An exceptionally hard smack across the knuckles by the elder Stewart boy one fall afternoon led me in seach of some hand protection. I ventured down into the basement to see if I could find a pair of Dad's work gloves. I dug through the piles of junk in vain, then, feeling the call of nature, I used the old clanky toilet down by the water heater. Beside the toilet lay the answer to my problems...

A magnificently polished length of hardwood timber, 2 inches in diameter and almost three feet long that just happened to be attached to a big rubber plunger bulb. If I could just get that rubber dealie off... But wait! Look inside! There's a big socket inside the rubber bulb that the wood is attached to. It's long enough to use as a handle!

I reached inside the bulb and grasped the handle of my new lightsaber. This was gonna be great! Sturdier wood than the old laths. Longer reach than Weinberg's curtain rod. This one even had a built-in guard for my hand! No more busted knuckles!

I gave the walls a solid shot with my new lightsaber. A bit unwieldy, but I could manage. I ventured upstairs with my prize in hand.

Out to the backyard I ventured, humming and whooshing and my blade bit the air. I was dealing the death blow to Darth Vader himself when Mom & Dad pulled into the driveway, and saw what I had affixed to my arm.

30 minutes later, my hands were red and beginning to be chapped. I'd completed the 15th handwashing of the day under the glare of my mother, using liquid Lysol and Comet cleanser in equal measures. Mom never saw a germ she wouldn't crush utterly.

So ended the short but happy era of Poo Hand Luke. It took until Christmas before I got another lightsaber, a deluxe model with a long plastic tube that lit up from within. Damn thing broke after the third whack.